Patriot Coal (OTC Pink: PATCA) announced March 23 that its Paint Creek Complex in southern West Virginia has temporarily idled coal production at both the Samples surface mine and Winchester underground mine effective March 22.
The action was taken in response to high coal inventory levels driven by a combination of a CSX Transportation rail service disruption in February and continued weakness in demand for coal. Appalachian thermal coal markets have been particularly hard hit over recent months by the combined impacts of coal-fired plant closures driven by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emission regulations, low-cost natural gas, and diminished export opportunities, Patriot noted.
Processing and shipping of coal to customers from on-site stockpiles will continue throughout the idle period. Coal production is scheduled to resume in approximately three to four weeks.
In other actions, on March 22 the Samples mine downsized the number of production units to reflect the reduced demand for thermal coal. An estimated 35 positions were permanently eliminated.
The Paint Creek Complex has approximately 400 Patriot subsidiary employees and is located near Cabin Creek, West Virginia.
Patriot Coal is a producer and marketer of coal, with eight active mining complexes in Northern and Central Appalachia. Patriot ships to domestic and international electricity generators, industrial users and metallurgical coal customers, and controls approximately 1.4 billion tons of proven and probable coal reserves.